“Death is not the end. There remains the litigation over the estate.”– Ambrose Bierce, American short story writer, Journalist & Poet
An estate planning attorney is a special type of attorney who specializes in helping individuals and families plan for the orderly distribution of their assets after death or incapacity. He or she is a certified professional that creates an estate plan that will ensure the wishes of the individuals and families concerning their finances and properties are carried out after death or in the event of incapacitation.
Also known as an estate planner, some websites say that an estate planning attorney is someone who specializes in “end-of-life planning” or premature death planning. But, most importantly, an estate planning attorney helps inform and educate the general public about the estate planning process, as well as the laws, rules, and regulations that affect the transfer, partition, distribution, and taxation of one’s estate.
Why do you need an estate planning attorney?
Estate planning attorneys create an enduring legacy.
Estate planning attorneys review current estate laws and regulations to advise clients of their rights and duties, and suggest options for reducing taxes on their inheritance, providing for the care of family members, and creating an enduring legacy.
The role of an estate planning attorney is to provide clients with knowledgeable, compassionate advice that helps them make informed decisions regarding their financial and personal welfare. Moreover, the estate planner can help the clients properly administer the estate of a deceased family member or friend.
In this capacity, he can provide guidance on the tasks involved in settling an estate such as filing the necessary court documents, locating and appraising assets, and distributing the deceased’s property in accordance with the wishes of the client.
It is important to note that the benefits of working with an estate planning attorney are numerous. These include asset protection, avoidance of probate court proceedings, tax savings, and peace of mind. The process of estate planning involves a deep understanding of existing laws and interpretation of those laws with the purpose of developing an estate plan that works for the individual or family. Once the estate plan is in place, it is important to execute the documents and communicate any changes in laws that may impact the plan.
What do estate planning attorneys do?
An estate planning attorney is among several professionals (tax advisors, financial planners, and life insurance agents, among others) that assist individuals to create estate plans based on their unique situations and concerns.
Depending on the unique situation or circumstance of each client, the estate planner provides an array of services that include –
1. Identifying legal or compulsory heirs, legatees, or devisee;
2. Preparing or drafting a will, powers of attorney, and other estate planning documents;
3. Creating healthcare directives and plans for long-term care;
4. Assist in determining the best kind of trust for the client, creating such a trust that will protect the assets, and funding the trust to provide for the financial needs of the beneficiaries in the future;
5. Coordinate with the financial advisor to reduce estate tax and other tax burdens through effective tax planning; and
6. Identifying ways to avoid probate proceedings.
The cost of working with an estate planning attorney varies greatly depending on the complexity of the estate and the expectations of the client. Generally, legal fees range from a few thousand pesos to many thousands of pesos.
Yet, working with a trusted estate planner who has experience preparing estate planning documents is worth the investment in order to get the outcome desired. He is a treasured and reliable resource as one works through the process of estate planning.
Atty. Jojo is a real estate attorney, an estate planning attorney, a licensed real estate broker, and a PRC-accredited Lecturer/ Speaker for Training Programs in Real Estate. He is a Chartered Trust and Estate Planning (CTEP®) professional who is committed to educating Filipinos about the value and importance of having an estate plan in their lives.